My dad, the sweet old man who deserves a call on Christmas Day. Makes sense that I try three times and his line or the international circuits – I can't tell which – are busy.
I don't think to call him the next day. Well, I guess I do think of it, but feel no pressure to do so. Not compared to Christmas Day anyway.
The armies lined up across from me take the form of the people I love. It feels like love. I love these people: my two sisters, my two parents. Even my sisters' husbands who feel like brothers.
My mother – getting smaller all the time. The little lady with her long white hair pinned up, wearing a soft mauve turtleneck and a bright turquoise cardigan. My youngest sister in nice casual – sort of weekend jeans you see in L.L. Bean catalogs with the nice sweater. She is letting her hair go grey. So is my other sister. Both of them colored their hair for decades but now that they're going grey they've decided to go natural.
I shouldn't get catty. I'm getting catty, right?
I called one on Christmas Eve. We never speak on the phone. Just a few emails a year and a visit or two when she comes East. If I read that description in a magazine I would imagine a relationship so different from the one I have with my sister. It doesn't feel like we are hardly in touch. Though I know little of her day-to-day life I feel like our lives are almost in overlap. I hear her voice on the phone and it's like she's in the room, facing me and I am trying hard to forge a little distance. At least, I guess that's what I'm doing.
And the moment I tentatively sketch a conclusion the painting dissolves again, refusing to be seen.
Three weeks ago I was seeing my father as a molester. That picture held for awhile, its clear charcoal outline a relief, but it too has slipped away from me. Daddy is laughing. I can't catch him.
Fred said something the other day and for a moment it was clear again, something about the family not allowing Marta to be fully alive – something like that. It made sense. I see Esther – the little sister, supposedly – she was almost my little daughter sometimes, the way we leaned on each other – but I see the parasitic side of that, or sense it. She claws at me. I see it in her angry cold face when she greets me with a smile that I know is not real. I think a lot of her is not real and that probably none of it has much to do with me.
It's funny how my sisters have become grown-ups, separate from each other, from the family, random grown-ups out there. We have less and less to do with each other, but the hooks are in so deep.